According to journalist Andy Corbley and The Good News Network (GNN), "Mr. Pickles, a 90-year-old radiated tortoise and the oldest animal at the Houston Zoo, became a father for the first time last week."
As Corbley continued to report, "Mr. Pickles and his 53-year-old partner, Mrs. Pickles, welcomed three hatchlings that could live for up to 150 years if well taken care of. Native to southern Madagascar, radiated tortoises are Critically Endangered and rarely produce offspring, Houston Zoo officials said."
“The new hatchlings came as a surprise when a herpetology keeper happened upon Mrs. Pickles as the tortoise was laying her eggs at closing time,” the Houston Zoo blog reported. “The animal care team quickly went to work uncovering the eggs and getting them to the safety of the Reptile & Amphibian House. The soil in Houston isn’t hospitable to the Madagascar native tortoises, and it’s unlikely the eggs would have hatched on their own if the keeper hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.”
"Arriving in 1996," Corbley noted, "...Mrs. Pickles has lived at the Houston Zoo alongside Mr. Pickles ever since. The kids have been named Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeño. The new parents have been key to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this exquisite reptile that has unfortunately fallen afoul of the illegal animal trade."
As Corbley concluded, "In 2018 10,000 radiated tortoises were found in a private home in Toliara, Madagascar. Rescuers transported them to Le Village Des Tortues ('Turtle Village'), a private wildlife rehabilitation facility in Ifaty, 18 miles north of Toliara. Preventative measures for insuring against the extinction of the reptile have been the establishment of breeding colonies on the Reunion Islands and Mauritius where the conditions are similar to its home in Madagascar."
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